ASP3162 - Computational astrophysics and the extreme universe - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy


Dr Rosemary Mardling

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


In this unit students will learn the basic principles of astrophysical fluid dynamics and how it can be used to model the most extreme events in the universe. The unit covers the basic equations of compressible hydrodynamics, including the behaviour of linear waves, the transition to shocks and the behaviour of fluids at high Mach number. Students will apply this to understand the physical processes that power accreting sources including white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes, and the physics behind the explosion of stars as supernovae. Students will gain practical experience in computational fluid dynamics including basic programming skills and an understanding of how large scale astrophysical simulations are performed.

Students will also learn about high-energy observational techniques of supernova remnants and compact objects and statistical approaches for inference-based interpretation of high-energy observational data.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of astrophysical fluid dynamics, involving the physics of fluids at high Mach number, including sound waves and shocks.
  2. Demonstrate practical skills in scientific computing, computational modelling, data analysis and visualisation.
  3. Perform computer simulations of astrophysical flows using advanced astrophysical simulation codes, and demonstrate an understanding of the physics and mathematics behind modern large-scale astrophysical simulations.
  4. Apply knowledge of high energy physics onto data analysis of supernova remnants, neutron stars, black holes and other accreting objects.
  5. Demonstrate practical skills in solving common statistical problems for astrophysics.


Examination (3 hours): 50%

Workshops: 30% (Hurdle)

Assignments: 20%

Students must pass the workshop component of this unit in order to pass the unit.

Workload requirements

  • Three 1-hour lectures/tutorials per week
  • One 3-hour workshop per week
  • Six hours of independent study per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


ASP2062 and one of MTH2010 or MTH2015 or

ENG2005 and one of MTH2032 or MTH2040.